STARKVILLE, Miss. – For the fourth-consecutive season, senior day at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre ended in victory, as the 13th-ranked Mississippi State men’s tennis squad (14-7, 4-5 SEC) took down No. 20 South Carolina (15-8, 5-4 SEC) 4-2 Friday to close out regular season home play.
With the win, State improved its all-time record against the Gamecocks to 15-10, while upping its home record against the SEC East foe to 8-4. The Bulldogs have also won the last three meetings in the series.
South Carolina grabbed an early edge against the Bulldogs, as the Gamecocks took the doubles point with victories on courts one and three. The USC duo of Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov, ranked 21st in the nation, defeated the No. 15 MSU tandem of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp 8-1 on court one to start off doubles play. However, State fired back as the Bulldog team of Romain Bogaerts and Zach White defeated South Carolina’s No. 55 duo of Kyle Koch and Harry Menzies 8-6 on court 2.
Play on court three went back and forth, as the two teams battled for a chance to take the early lead in the team match. The teams traded holds late in the match to force a deciding tiebreaker, but the Gamecock team of Thiago Pinheiro and Andrew Adams escaped with a win, defeating MSU’s Pedro Dumont and Ethan Wilkinson 9-8(4) to clinch the doubles point for USC.
Looking to bounce back in singles, State leveled the score with a victory on court six, as the freshman Dumont cruised against USC’s Menzies 6-2, 6-2. USC would then jump back out in front, going up 2-1 as MSU’s White fell to South Carolina’s Koch 7-5, 6-2 on court five.
State would once again even the score with perhaps the day’s most crucial victory. MSU’s Angus found himself down to USC’s Cox 5-2 in the first set, but would not flinch, instead battling back to force a tiebreaker. Angus again found himself down, as he trailed 3-0 in the tiebreaker, but fought back again, eventually taking the first set 7-6(7). The second set proved to not be as troublesome for Angus as he defeated Cox 7-6(7), 6-3 to tie the team match at 2-2.
Play then came down to the top three courts, with each team needing two victories to clinch the match. After dropping the first set on court two, MSU’s No. 50 Stropp came back to defeat his fourth ranked opponent of the year, beating USC's No. 90 Adams 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 in a hard-fought battle.
A point away from victory, the two teams battled it out on courts one and three, but the top spot would prove to be the decider. After splitting the first two sets, the match between MSU’s No. 20 Bogaerts and USC’s Mihov would come down to a final set. Bogaerts only relinquished two games in the final set, storming to victory against Mihov 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 and wrapping the team match in Maroon and White.
Play on court three was suspended at that point, as USC’s Pinheiro led MSU senior James Chaudry 6-7(2), 6-3, 5-3. Chaudry had fought off several match points in the game, putting it at 40-40 when suspended.
“Tough match today, but we pulled out a big win, especially on senior day,” head coach Per Nilsson said. “Really proud of our guys, but now we have to focus on Florida this Sunday.”
As the book has closed on the 2013 regular season home slate, the No. 13 Bulldogs will hit the road for their final three matches of the regular season. State travels to Gainesville, Fla., Sunday as they take on No. 17 Florida at 12 p.m. CT. State will travel to No. 32 LSU Wednesday, April 10, for a midweek battle against LSU before closing out its season in College Station, Texas, against No. 12 Texas A&M on Friday, April 12.
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No. 13 Mississippi State 4, No. 20 South Carolina 2
April 5, 2013 – A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre – Starkville, Miss.
1) No. 20 Bogaerts (MSU) def. Mihov (USC) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
2) No. 50 Stropp (MSU) def. No. 90 Adams (USC) 3-6, 6-1, 7-5
3) Pinheiro (USC) vs. James Chaudry (MSU) 6-7(2), 6-3, 5-3(susp.)
4) Angus (MSU) def. Cox (USC) 7-6(7), 6-3
5) Koch (USC) def. White (MSU) 7-5, 6-2
6) Dumont (MSU) def. Menzies (USC) 6-2, 6-2
Order of finish… Doubles (1,2,3)… Singles (6,5,4,2,1)